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RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: Never mind the Boris, it’s about Brexit

This column doesn’t do honeymoon periods, though it would be churlish not to admit to a sense of satisfaction and vindication now that Boris has finally made it into No 10.

As I wrote at the time and have maintained ever since, he should have got the job the day after the referendum result was announced. My heart sank when he was knifed by Michael Gove, ushering in three wasted years of dismal, defeatist Theresa May.

Boris deserved the chance to follow through on the convincing majority to leave the EU, which he had done so much to secure. My guess is we’d have been out by now, a free-trade deal signed and sealed.

Of course, you can never legislate for the obdurate obstructionism of die-hard Remainers, who have never accepted the democratically expressed will of the British people.

In his barnstorming speech in Downing Street this week, Boris channelled the Sex Pistols: ‘Never mind the backstop, the buck stops here’

But they might not have been so emboldened in their efforts to scupper Brexit had they been faced down by a confident, determined Boris Johnson, rather than indulged by a timid, technocratic Theresa May, whose heart was never in it.

Still, spilt milk and all that. What matters now is what comes next.

In his barnstorming speech in Downing Street this week, Boris channelled the Sex Pistols: ‘Never mind the backstop, the buck stops here.’

It was a cute line, the kind of throwaway quip we’ve come to expect from this supreme political showman, who deploys language like the master of ceremonies in a Victorian music hall. His bravura performances both in Downing Street on Wednesday and in the Commons yesterday were vintage Johnson.

He’s rightly being praised for raising the nation’s mood after an eternity of gloom and doom dished out by May and ex-Chancellor Philip Hammond, a man with all the charisma and bonhomie of a pox doctor’s clerk.

Boris deserved the chance to follow through on the convincing majority to leave the EU, which he had done so much to secure. My guess is we'd have been out by now, a free-trade deal signed and sealed

Boris deserved the chance to follow through on the convincing majority to leave the EU, which he had done so much to secure. My guess is we’d have been out by now, a free-trade deal signed and sealed

Our new Prime Minister is clearly revelling in all the attention after achieving his lifelong ambition.

Good for him, but he should make the most of it while it lasts and then concentrate on the job in hand.

If I may inject a note of caution: ‘Never mind the Boris, it’s about Brexit.’

Yes, it’s a relief to have a larger than life character in No 10, especially one with a fine intellect and an irrepressible sense of mischief.

But what we need now is a statesman, not a showman — someone the EU negotiators must fear as a real menace.

Not Dennis The Menace.

To Boris’s credit, he has made all the right noises. He’s ruthlessly purged the Cabinet of ministers determined to prevent No Deal. He has put Brussels on notice. We are coming out with or without a deal. And unless EU leaders accept the new reality, they can forget about any £39 billion divorce settlement.

I’m also led to believe that Steve Barclay, who is staying on as Brexit Secretary, has been to Dublin and read the riot act to pipsqueak Irish Prime Minister Lenny Verruca, reminding him on which side of his bread he’ll find the Kerrygold.

As a consequence, Verruca is coming under serious pressure at home to stop playing silly beggars on the so-called backstop. If he continues to be Michel Barnier’s stooge, the southern portion of the Emerald Isle is facing certain economic ruin.

So Boris does have some strong cards to play, though he’s a long way short of a royal flush.

His main problem is the petulance and self-importance of so many Conservative MPs.

They refuse to accept the referendum result, they refuse to carry out the clear commitments to Leave which they made in their last Election manifesto, and now a significant number of them pour scorn on their new leader, who was elected by two-thirds of their own party members.

Which bit of democracy don’t they understand?

Even before Boris was confirmed, no-mark ministers you’d never heard of were resigning from jobs you didn’t know they had because they couldn’t serve under Boris or commit to a No Deal Brexit.

Most of them jumped before they were pushed, but that’s not the point. It used to be said that unity was the Conservative Party’s secret weapon, even though it’s always been a nest of vipers.

But, as they have demonstrated time and again since 2016, far too many preening Tory MPs no longer respect the concept of loyalty, collective responsibility or honouring the will of the people who pay their wages.

So Boris will have a titanic battle to get any Brexit departure deal, or no deal at all, through the Commons. He won’t be able to busk and bluff it.

He’s helped by Corbyn’s admission that Labour is now a Remain and second referendum party, which has horrified MPs in Leave-voting Northern constituencies.

These MPs won’t want a snap General Election and may be persuaded to vote with the Government. But don’t bank on it.

If Boris does call an election, he should do as I wrote a few weeks ago and forge a pact with the Brexit Party, giving Nigel Farage’s impressive list of candidates a free run at Labour’s Leave heartlands, where no Tory would ever win.

Boris needn’t think, either, that he can pull a fast one by slipping a heavily-disguised version of Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement under the radar, as many Leavers fear.

If he fails to drive through a clean, convincing Brexit, Britain is finished as a proper democracy, the Tories are finished and so is Boris.

Honeymoon’s over.

If Project Fear is right and there really are food shortages after Brexit, we may have to improvise. Jamie Oliver’s friend, celebrity farmer Jimmy Doherty, thinks we should start eating squirrels.

He suggests the best way of cooking them would be barbecued with a little rosemary.

Squirrel isn’t exactly my idea of dinner, but in a post-Apocalypse Brexit landscape it might be preferable to cannibalism.

We could even see a chain of Beatrix Potter-themed restaurants springing up across the country.

If Project Fear is right and there really are food shortages after Brexit, we may have to improvise. Jamie Oliver's friend, celebrity farmer Jimmy Doherty, thinks we should start eating squirrels

If Project Fear is right and there really are food shortages after Brexit, we may have to improvise. Jamie Oliver’s friend, celebrity farmer Jimmy Doherty, thinks we should start eating squirrels

I suppose I could force down a Squirrel Nutkin kebab if I had to. But I’m not sure about squirrel tartare.

Two people have just been fined £600 for eating raw squirrel in front of a vegan food stall in London’s Soho.

They said they were raising awareness about the dangers of not eating meat, but were convicted of causing distress and alarm to passers-by.

It may be an unconventional form of protest, but if militant vegans can firebomb hamburger restaurants why shouldn’t carnivores stage their own counter demonstrations?

Let them eat squirrel!

Here’s another one of those stories I thought I’d never read, let alone write. It comes courtesy of the Sunday Times, which reports:

‘A 27-year-old Nottingham secretary has become the first white woman to develop Koro syndrome — usually suffered by African men — whereby people believe their genitals are disappearing.’

Someone at the Sunday Times has a sense of humour. The first edition story about the secretary was headlined: ‘Female falls victim to Koro syndrome.’

By the third edition it had been changed to: ‘Woman fears loss of personal items.’

Mellor’s bad hair day

Did you see that photo of the Mellorphant Man in the Mail, wearing a collarless Nehru shirt and sporting a floppy, frosted hairdo? 

Someone remarked that he looked like the leader of one of those weird Waco-style cults.

On second glance, David Mellor is the spitting image of Isa, the nosy neighbour from BBC Scotland’s brilliant sitcom Still Game.

David Mellor

Isa from sitcom Still Game

David Mellor (left) is the spitting image of Isa (right), the nosy neighbour from BBC Scotland’s brilliant sitcom Still Game

A parrot with a Welsh accent has been rescued by police from a group of women who snatched him from a boat on the Thames.

The parrot, name of Rodney, sings Old MacDonald Had A Farm with what is described as a Welsh lilt.

Sounds like one for Simon Cowell. I wonder if Rodney knows The Green Green Grass Of Home?

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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